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New state initiative promoting safe sleep for infants

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Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder announced a new effort to raise awareness about safe sleep environments for infants at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder announced a new effort to raise awareness about safe sleep environments for infants at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WJBK) -

It is a tragedy that takes the lives of nearly 150 Michigan babies every year.  There is now a new effort to prevent unsafe sleep infant deaths across the state.

Paul and Paula Mallia of Canton Township still ache after the loss of their baby, Michael.  In 2002, the eight-month-old died while at daycare.

"The daycare provider had put a heavy quilt blanket over his crib to block out the sunlight," Paula Mallia explained.  "It had fallen on him, and he couldn't get out.  He had suffocated."

At Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder recently announced a new statewide initiative to prevent babies from dying in unsafe sleep environments.  This collaboration between the state and hospitals follows recent similar efforts launched by Oakland and Wayne counties to tackle this growing issue.

"Co-sleeping causes suffocation," said Maura Corrigan, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services.  "Last year and other years we've lost nearly 150 infants."

Showing new parents an educational video in the hospital is part of the state's plan to help protect babies.

"The goal is to try to really change human behavior so that we don't have any more grief or loss when the death is totally preventable," Corrigan said.

To keep babies safe, the life-saving advice includes never allowing babies to sleep with adults or older children.  Babies should sleep in a safe crib free from pillows and stuffed animals.  Babies must also be put to sleep on their backs.

"It doesn't look very beautiful for a baby to be in a crib without a bumper, without the quilt, but safety comes first," said Dr. Fozia Saleem-Rasheed with Beaumont Children's Hospital.

"We hope to prevent more parents from going through what we've gone through, more families," Paula Mallia said.  "If nobody has to go through this, that would be the ideal."

The bottom line is these are preventable deaths, and the only way to prevent them is raising awareness.

For resources on safe sleep for infants, visit www.michigan.gov/safesleep.

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